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Md. bill would protect those who call for help in overdose cases

Tuesday - 3/11/2014, 2:18pm  ET

BALTIMORE, Md. -- A Maryland lawmaker is proposing a bill that he says he hopes will help more drug overdose victims receive proper medical help in time to save their lives.

"The Good Samaritan Bill really just tries to give people certainty when they call in an emergency if somebody has overdosed on drugs or alcohol, that they will not be prosecuted for small possession amounts of the drug or underage drinking," says Del. Jon Cardin, D-Baltimore County, who is running for attorney general.

"People should not be scared to call 911 for fear of prosecution," he says.

Cardin says the bill isn't intended to hamper law enforcement.

"We're indemnifying people from minor offenses, from non-violent criminal offenses. We're not talking about major drug trade or major burglaries, or violent crimes of that sort," he says.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that when it comes to drugs, treatment needs to be a focus along with law enforcement. He adds that that he would like to to see law enforcement trained and equipped with Naloxone -- a drug used to counteract the side effects of an opiate overdose. Right now, paramedics carry those drugs on ambulances.

"We know how to treat people if we can get to them," Cardin says.

His bill would also protect individuals who call for help, even if their first call isn't to the police.

"If you call the police department, or if you call the emergency room, or if you call the doctor and they come in, a doctor calls the police and they inform them that they are going to a site to save an individual from an overdose," Cardin says.

So far, HB0416 passed the House unanimously. On Tuesday, the bill will be heard in committee in the Senate.

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